Photo credit: Chloe Prehn-Arnold
This week is National Clean Beaches Week and who better than the legendary Sally Mills, author of Island to Island, to provide us with some inspirational words.
Across the world we are blessed with awe-inspiring natural landscapes, from snowy capped mountain tops to the silver sands of our coastal shores. Natural beauty surrounds us, it fascinates us, from the ebb and flow of the tides to the magical Milky Way, an intriguing twinkling galaxy far beyond our comprehension. But such jewels in our life are vulnerable and we have a responsibility to live in harmony with them, to respect them and encourage them to thrive.
Unfortunately, however, we increasingly see more evidence of the impact of our habitation, and as we fail to tread lightly, our natural resources begin to suffer, and there are more and more frequent reminders of our actions on our sensitive environment. This is most apparent in our seas and on our shorelines as our disposable society becomes ever more evident washed up on our beaches, through the build-up of litter that now regularly adorn their shores. Yet our marine environment is the life blood of our world, it covers more than 70 percent of the surface of our planet and it’s hard to imagine that about 97 percent of the Earth’s water can be found in our oceans.
We are custodians of this incredible natural world and I feel lucky to have worked in nature conservation all my life, which has been filled with many remarkable experiences. However, one of the exceptional highlights has to be when, after 25 years of conservation employment in the UK, my partner Melvyn and I earned the opportunity to manage the prestigious Aride Island Nature Reserve in Seychelles.
Unlike many people, I have been privileged and very fortunate to live on a beautiful picture-perfect tropical island in the rich archipelago of the Seychelles. To live next to the Indian ocean briming with marine life and share its silver, sandy unpolluted shores crawling with crabs and home to both green and hawksbill turtles. But sadly, these coastal experiences are now getting harder to find.
Such a unique existence, living and working on a small, remote tropical island unpolluted by light and habitation was both cathartic and inspirational. So much so, I decided to share the highs and lows of this life changing experience through an illustrated memoir, ‘Island to Island’, which was published in August 2022.
However, nature is resilient, given the chance it bounces back, it takes any opportunity offered to rekindle its splendour, we just need to give it a helping hand. In some cases, it may feel out of our comfort zone, but is certainly not beyond our grasp and there are many initiatives and organisations to guide and navigate our endeavours. Wherever we reside our efforts can be rewarded if we work together and join forces to support such initiatives to protect and safeguard our natural resource.
Clean beaches week is one such opportunity to give something back and to help rescue our beaches from the evidence of our growing habitation. It is a chance to raise awareness, to change the way we think and what we do. Set up by a network of dedicated individuals and coastal organizations to promote well managed, clean and healthy beaches around the world, called the Clean Beaches Coalition (CBC), Clean Beaches Week is celebrated annually (1st to 7th July). Known as the ‘Earth Day’ for beaches, hundreds of beach events are organized which include beach clean ups, seafood festivals, art fairs and educational events aiming to raise awareness about respecting beaches and their surrounding environment. Clean Beaches Week is a seven-day celebration recognising and embracing the importance of clean beaches and we can all help.
If you need to be inspired my memoir Island to Island and its associated Photograph Collection will do just that, they will whisk you away to the tropics and to what a pristine shoreline is like, what we could and should aspire to preserve. We all have the power and opportunity to experience the unique beauty of unpolluted shores and clean seas, if we just took the time to think and to adjust the way we live so we are in harmony and not in conflict with the precious landscape around us.
So, why not devote a few hours, to one of the many events around the country. It’s easy to get involved, to take part visit the Marine Conservation Website: https://www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/greatbritishbeachclean or get in touch via: firstname.lastname@example.org, and for an inspirational read look out for Island to Island and its photographic companion, available from the publishers Cranthorpe Millner.